Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bourbon Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake


1 1/2 cup gingersnaps, finely ground
2 tablespoons light- or dark-brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (more if needed)

1 1/2 cup solid-packed pumpkin
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping
1 1/2 pound cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons bourbon or dark rum

To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch or 10- inch spring form pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Combine gingersnap crumbs and sugar in bowl. Mix in melted butter and stir until crust holds together. Press crumbs onto the bottom of pan. Bake crust 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. 

To make the filling: Blend together pumpkin, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt and 1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping. In mixer, cream together cream cheese and sugar on low speed until smooth. Add cornstarch, vanilla and bourbon. Add pumpkin mixture to cream-cheese mixture and beat just until combined and smooth. Pour mixture into pre-baked crust and bake 50 minutes to 55 minutes, or until cake is just set. Let cool 5 minutes. 

Chill cheesecake, covered, overnight. Remove sides of pan. 
Top with additional caramel ice cream topping.

Recipe courtesy of my husband--Steve.  I have to say our holiday meals are much better when he's cooking and baking!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

ChocoVine Chocolate Raspberry Sundae


  • Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Fresh Raspberries
  • Chocolate Syrup
  • ChocoVine Raspberry Chocolate Wine
  • Whip Cream
  • Mini Chocolate Chips

In a Sundae bowl, add 2 scoops of ice cream, some fresh raspberries, and drizzle with chocolate.

Then add 6 ounces of ChocoVine Raspberry Chocolate Wine.

Top with Whipped Cream and mini Chocolate Chips.

Alt:  You can use 1 scoop of ice cream and 3 ounces of ChocoVine.

Stop by and read about the Columbus Wine Festival!!  
Columbus Wine Festival Part 1
Columbus Wine Festival Part 2
Columbus Wine Festival Part 3

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cannelloni Recipe from 'Pasta-tively Scrumptious'

Pasta dough is not hard at all to make! Just a few pointers: Set your eggs out for a bit so they come to room-temperature....they mix in with the dry ingredients much better. Some recipes call for Semolina flour. I have not worked much with it so I am no expert for sure, but the little bit I did work with it I actually found it slightly more difficult to turn out pasta the way I wanted. I've just been using regular "All-Purpose" flour (unbleached) since.

In the past I've made pasta that was 'too thick' and just 'too much'.....so I try to roll my pasta pretty thin. You will need to adjust according to your preferences. But remember that pasta will 'plump up' more after you boil it. I have an electric pasta machine (which I use to make noodles, but I haven't used in awhile, admittedly)....what I do use fairly often is my manual pasta machine. I set it up and 'clamp' it on the counter, insert the 'crank' handle and I'm good to go. If you're concerned about cleaning them, no need to be. You just might have to be prepared to let it set out overnight so any 'residual' pasta can dry (depending on what attachments you use). Fresh pasta can be impossible to clean out, but dried can often just be 'knocked-out' by dropping an attachment against the counter. I really only use my flat rollers to roll pasta sheets, and they really don't get dirty....even still, I wipe them with a damp paper towel (while turning the crank) the next day. If you do have pasta stuck in there (maybe it wasn't the right consistency, it was too wet and got stuck), don't fret...just allow it to dry overnight then run a dry paper towel through the rollers a few times (as if it were a sheet of pasta)...that should clear the problem.

Don't let manual pasta rollers scare you, they are actually easier to operate than trying to pull out and put together an electric pasta machine! (Though those have their place in the kitchen, too!). If you don't have any 'machinery' to make fresh pasta at home, don't fret. In this case, to make Cannelloni, just buy some dried Manicotti shells. Just cook them according to package directions to "al dente". Anyhow, for those of you who want the fresh pasta recipe, on to that......!

Black Pepper Pasta (serves 4-6 as an entree) (*to make this PLAIN pasta, just omit the pepper)

2 cups All-purpose (unbleached) flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs (at room temperature)
1 1/2 tbsp. water
2 tsp ground black pepper

Put the flour in a bowl, add the salt & black pepper and stir around with a fork or whisk to blend. Add the eggs and water and stir with a wooden spoon. It may seem firm/dry, but keep stirring. Once mixture seems 'together' enough, dump out on a barely floured counter top. The dough mixture may seem quite 'crumbly' to you, but keep kneading it with your hands to try to get it to 'come together'. (At first it seems like way too small amount of water, but a lot of times, it is the right amount...just keep kneading to see). If the mixture still seems way too crumbly, try adding droplets of water at a time. But before you start adding, you may want to try to pass the dough through the pasta machine first to see what happens.

Pasta dough is drier than bread doughs you may have dealt with, so you may have to 'get a feel' for it. First, pat it out with your fingers/hands as flat as you can, like 1/4" thick. Then pass through the machine at the highest (widest) setting. You can pass it through a few times to get it right, and you'll have to 'flip over' the odd-shaped ends (to make a neat, rectangular pasta sheet) and re-run them, especially in the beginning. If after 2-3 passes it still seems "crumbly" (like at the edges or maybe a few holes in the center), you can try dabbing water on the edges/holes with your finger and then re-running. If the pasta is outright tearing/sticking to the roller, it is probably too wet. So it is better to start off with the minimum amount of water and add more in droplets as needed!

Start turning the machine settings down in steps. My manual pasta machine starts at "7". I go down in steps from there and keep rolling and drawing out the pasta, till I get down to the thickness I like. The setting I've used recently was "2" (I used this for lasagna a few months ago, but my husband admitted he would have liked the pasta sheets to be a little thicker), which I'd used for the cannelloni, too....I feared, since they were 'rolled', they could seem like too much pasta, so I rolled them to a "2". Now, my husband was quite happy with this setting. I think it could have probably been a "3" and been good still. And my lasagna before really should have been a "3". It can be hard to tell, as pasta can swell a great deal when it is boiled. This is more of a "try and see what you like" sort of thing. It helps to only boil fresh pasta VERY briefly, to avoid it becoming too puffed up and soggy. I only boiled the fresh cannelloni sheets about 1 minute. Fresh pasta cooks MUCH faster than dried!

Cannelloni Filling

Ricotta cheese (I used a 15 oz carton, but I had a few leftover pasta sheets...you may need more cheese if you want to make a bigger pan of pasta)
1/2 cup cooked, crumbled Italian sausage
grated parmesan, Asiago & Romano cheeses (to your preference)
dried basil & oregano (about 1/4 tsp or so of each)
1/2 tsp (or s0) granulated garlic (or you can use powdered or minced)
1/4 tsp minced dried onion
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg

Mix filling well. Divide evenly among pasta sheets and roll up. Place pasta rolls in a pan (like a glass casserole/lasagna pan) that has been 'greased' with olive or vegetable oil. Pour your favorite spaghetti (meat) sauce recipe over the cannelloni. Sprinkle liberally with shredded mozzarella and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes to 1 hour. (You can do only 30 minutes of baking if all the ingredients are still hot/warm. But if you've chilled them overnight in the fridge, you will need to first bring the dish to room temp as best as possible--don't try to slide a cold glass dish into a hot oven! -- then bake it for a full hour to be sure it is fully heated through and all the cheeses are melted). Enjoy!! This is great with some crusty garlic toast and a hearty red wine like Chianti or Zinfandel! :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Surfer Sandwich

First I made homemade 'Seaweed Bread'. To be honest, I thought the recipe was a little 'heavy' due to the half-content of whole-wheat flour. Whole wheat flour is certainly good for you, but to be honest, to make a more appealing 'burger', I think next time I will try my own recipe of all "bread flour". So this is what I say to you: Pick your favorite bread recipe (like maybe a french/italian or regular white bread) and just add "diced" Nori sheets (dried seaweed usually used in sushi-making). I cut them into strips (approximately 3 per loaf of bread), then dice them with kitchen scissors. Just add it right in with the dough and mix it in real good. It has an uncanny ability to taste "of the sea". This recipe was inspired by the great cookbook: "DOUGH- Simple Contemporary Bread by Richard Bertinet".

Next I took 2 Tuna Steaks and rubbed some Teriyaki sauce on them with my hands. Then I grilled them on the "grill" plates of our "panini grill". You could also use your 'George Foreman' grill, a regular charcoal or gas grill, or saute' them in a pan. Depending on the grade of tuna you have, you can leave them medium-rare or do them well-done. We bought frozen steaks from Publix, so they were fine to be cooked medium-rare. We cooked them to barely pink. Then the steaks were placed atop lightly-toasted, split seaweed bread buns (that'd been buttered after), topped with a slice of Pepper-Jack cheese, some prepared Wasabi-Mustard (with regular mayonnaise mixed in) , sliced fresh tomato and shredded lettuce. YUM!! The taste of the sea. Serve with crispy fries.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"Sweet Tomatoes' Recipes

PIZZA DOUGH (from a recipe in the St. Pete Times Parade, by Bobby Flay....a chef I really respect!):

3 1/2 -4 cups Bread flour
1 tsp sugar
1 envelope instant dry yeast (I use the dry yeast in a jar---2 1/4 tsp)
2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

First: Make a "sponge": Put 1/2 cup of the bread flour into a big bowl. Pour on the yeast. Add the sugar. Then add the water. Stir around with a (preferably) wooden spoon. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then a dish towel and let rest for 10 minutes, allowing to "proof".
You will notice that yeast has "proofed" because the mixture will be foamy/poofy....obviously more "grown" than when you started. Once proofed, add 1 cup of the flour, then add the olive oil....mix in. Then add the remaining 2 cups flour with the salt on top, then mix in. Mix up in bowl, then turn out onto lightly floured countertop. Mix around and knead, using as little flour as possible (for stickiness). Pour a dollop of olive oil in bowl and put kneaded dough on top. Turn dough (to expose oiled side), and spread oil around to edges. Then wrap with plastic wrap and towel. Let rest in warm place for about an hour. You will see that it has expanded by about double. Turn it out onto a lighty-floured countertop. Divide the dough in half. Each half will make 1 large pizza. You can choose to either make 2 pizzas or to only make 1 pizza right now, and freeze the other half for later. If you freeze the other half, take a gallon freezer bag, spritz it will an oil spray (either a "misto" pump with olive/canola oil) or PAM, throw a handful of flour in the bag, seal the bag and shake it around to coat the bag evenly with flour. Then insert the extra ball of dough and immediately freeze for use another time. ....For making pizza now: HAVE a PIZZA STONE on the bottom rack in the oven and "preheat" the oven to 500 degrees. Cut a piece of parchment paper to size (per pizza) then "pat" with hands & fingers the dough out to a full, large pizza size. (Press/pat the dough right onto the parchment sheet, don't worry that it will stick). Half a pizza dough will make a large pizza! The dough should be fine to press out (you may need to dip hands/fingers in flour occasionally to prevent sticking).....if the dough becomes really resistant (unusual), you can cover it with the leftover platic wrap & dish towel and let rest for 10 minutes, then continue pressing it out again. Once pressed out to size, spread with sauce, some shredded mozzarella, diced green bell peppers, & diced red onion & ground italian sausage. Then spread with a little more mozzarella shreds, fresh sliced mushrooms, sliced black olives & sliced pepperoni. The sliced pepperoni should be on top so that it "fries/crisps" in the high heat. Trust me. "Pull" the pizza (by the parchment edge) onto a flat-edge cookie sheet or pizza peel. I usually trim the corners of the parchment incase they burn. Slide the parchment with the fresh pizza onto the hot stone in the oven.....I usually just "jiggle/vibrate" the pan to carefully encourage the parchment/pizza off onto the stone. After 10 minutes in the 500 degree oven, the pizza will be done FOR SURE!! Yes, just 10 minutes!! Don your oven mitts with the same cookie sheet (or pizze peel?) and carefully slide the pizza/parchment onto it. I usually slice the pizza directly onto the couter (sans the parchment), let it cool for a minute ( it will still be piping hot), then cut it into pieces. Then you can garnish with hot red pepper flakes and grated parmesan as desired.


Several fresh from-the-vine-tomatoes (plum, grape, etc)
minced garlic
olive oil
red wine (I used a splash of Oak Leaf Shiraz)
dried basil & dried oregano
salt & ground black pepper
a pinch of sugar

Wash the tomates and "process" them in the food processor till "pureed". They will smell awesomely tomatoey!! Heat some olive oil in a pan and scoop in the fresh pureed tomatoes. Stir/sautee' around and add the fresh garlic (just some to taste, like 1/2 - 1 tsp), then a pour of red wine (maybe 1/4 cup or so?), keep stirring around......add a bit of sugar, 1/2 tsp dried basil & 1/4 cup dried oregano (adjusted to taste per amount of tomatoes used!), ground black pepper & salt. Allow to cool, then spread on a pizza(s). Top pizza with whatever toppings you like: Mozzarella, red onion, green bell pepper, sliced mushrooms, black olives, italian sausage & sliced pepperoni.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Recipes from "Summer of Pork--Part II"

The marinade recipe for my pork (a fresh ham) is inspired by "The BBQ Bible" by Steven Raichlen....you should really consider buying all his books, he is the KING of BBQ!!

Pork (a picnic, a fresh (unsmoked) ham or loin
fresh-squeezed lime juice (I used 2 limes for probably about a 6-8 lb ham)
fresh-squeezed orang juice (I used 1 orange)
olive oil (I used around 1/4 cup)
Dry sherry (I used around 1/4 cup)
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp kosher salt
around a tsp or two of dried oregano
around a tsp or two of ground cumin
1/4 if a sweet vidalia onion, sliced and cut into 1-2" pieces
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cilantro

I mixed all the above ingredients (except the ham, of course). Then I put the ham into a pan (I used a ceramic, square dish, like a lasagna pan...do NOT use an aluminum pan), cut slits in both sides of the ham, then poured the marinade over it, wrapped in plastic wrap and put in the fridge. After 24 hours, I turned the ham and put it back in the fridge for 24 more hours. You can also turn it more frequently, and you don't have to marinate it for a full 48 hours. I'd at least marinate it overnight, but in that case, you should try to turn it in the marinade several times. Obviously a pork loin would not require as much marinating if that is what you are using.

Prepare a BBQ grill for indirect grilling. Put a deep-sided foil drip pan (like a disposable foil lasagna pan) in the center of the grill. Heat the coals in a chimney starter. When the goals are hot and glowing, carefully tip them out onto either side of the foil pan. You will have coals on both outer sides of the grill with an aluminum pan in the middle. Make sure you add a good amount of water to the pan before the grill gets hot. This will help with controlling grease fires. Place the ham (or other piece of pork) directly over the drip pan (make sure that you have a pan that is slightly bigger than the piece of pork you are grilling to help ensure all the fat dripping off the pork lands in the pan). Close the grill. Your grill should be up around 300-325 degrees. Remember, if you are using a WHOLE fresh ham, you will need to increase the marinade, probably more than double. In that case, the cooking (BBQing) time would be 6-8 hours. If using a fresh ham as I did above, the cooking time would be around 31/2-41/2 hours, you be the judge. If using a shoulder (4-6 lbs) use the same marinade (roughly) as above and grill for 4-6 hours. For a loin (2-3 lbs), about 1-2 hours. You be the judge! Differences in temp (both outside and actual grilling temps, especially with charcoal) vary, as well as individual preferences.
I became concerned during grilling that my fresh ham (which was more of a big, fat 'slice' taken from the portion, didn't have enough skin/fat over the meat to prevent drying the meat, so during BBQing I basted it with a mixture of fresh-squeezed orange juice, beer and a little olive oil, just to keep the meat moist. But don't lift the lid to often. I basted liberally every hour, and then I basted a little again after removing it from the grill. Then I covered it with foil and allowed it to 'rest'. After it has cooled a little, you can 'shred' it by hand or slice/chop it up and then drizzle 'mojo' sauce over it: (1/4-1/2 cup olive oil, 4 tbsp minced garlic, 1 fresh squeezed lime, 1/4 fresh squeezed orange, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper and a couple tsps chopped cilantro. (Double if making the WHOLE ham).

Spanish Risotto

short-grain rice (about 3/4 cup for 4 servings, adjust to your preferences)
olive oil (2 tbsp or so to put on bottom of pan for sauteeing rice)
2-3 pats butter
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup (or more?) canned diced tomato with mild green chilies
beer (about 1/2 cup)
chicken broth (1 cup + more!...all extra that is necessary as you cook)
2-3 pinches saffron threads
1 tsp Lawry's seasoning salt
generous pinch white pepper

Heat olive oil and pats butter in saucepan. Pour in short-grain rice. Stir around and 'sautee'. Add the onions & red bell pepper. Stir all around some more. Do not allow the rice to brown, but stir around/sautee quite well. Add in minced garlic and keep stirring. Add the diced tomatoes and keep stirring. Add in beer and stir around. The liquid will be absorbed quite rapidly. Add a good amount of chicken broth and keep stirring. As the rice plumps up and absorbs the liquid, add more. Add the saffron threds, rubbing them with your fingers to sort of 'break them up' a bit as they go into the pot. Add the Lawry's Seasoning Salt and white pepper. Stir around. Keep stirring the rice and adding chicken broth as needed to get to the consistency you want. Some people like 'soupy' risotto, some like more firm, creamy risotto. We tend to prefer the more firm, creamy piles of risotto. The most important thing is to give them enough moisture (broth/water) so they plump up and get creamier. Play with it and see what you like.

Zucchini & Green Bean Medley

John plucked an '8 ball green zucchini' from our garden and I sliced it into wedges and put it in foil along with some whole green beans, a bit of olive oil, a couple pats of butter and some Lawry's seasoning salt. I folded up the packet of foil and let it steam/cook over the remaining heat of the coals after I removed the pork (while I was letting the pork 'rest'). Our veggie packet turned out quite yummy! You can make all sort of veggie packets this way and add all sorts of things...we would have added yellow summer squash, but our garden hadn't produced one right then. You could also add broccoli, red bell pepper or onion. Your choice! Add some olive oil & maybe some bits of butter and a little minced garlic, and you are good to go! Have a Happy Summer!!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Simple Tortilla Bowl Salad

  • 1 edible Tortilla Bowl
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Cucumbers, sliced
  • Peppers, chopped or diced
  • Carrots, shredded
  • 3 ounces of grilled steak
  • Feta cheese crumbles
  • Bacon bits
  • Grated Parmesean /Romano Cheese blend
Start with a freshly baked tortilla bowl.

Then add some freshly chopped Romaine Lettuce.

Add some shredded carrots and sliced cucumbers

Then add some chopped bell peppers and some feta cheese crumbles

Add the 3ounces of steak

And finally add some bacon bits and sprinkle a bit of shredded parmesean /romano cheese blend to complete the salad.

You can add 2 ounces of any salad dressing that you desire or you can eat as is.  The tortilla is a great replacement for croutons...and is quite tasty too!

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